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3R Project Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

Beta Toolkit

What is the beta Toolkit?
How do I find the beta Toolkit? Can anyone access it?
Who are the intended users of the beta Toolkit?
Should I apply the beta Toolkit instructions now in my everyday cataloguing work?
Why was the beta Toolkit made available without some of the tools that cataloguers need to use it, such as an application profile, or policy statements?
What is the role of the RDA Registry in the beta Toolkit?
How do I provide feedback on the content and functionality of the beta Toolkit?
Why isn’t this called RDA 2.0?

3R Project


What is the 3R Project?
When will the 3R Project be completed?
Will there be training for the beta Toolkit and the new RDA content?
Will the original RDA Toolkit continue to be available after the release of the beta Toolkit?

Toolkit Redesign and Restructure


Will the instructions in the beta Toolkit be numbered and how will they be referenced?
Will there be an index to RDA?
Will a print version of the RDA guidance and instructions be available?
Will there be an opportunity for customizing the beta Toolkit?
Will AACR2 be available in the beta Toolkit?
Will examples in MARC be added to the beta Toolkit?
Will RDA mappings change?
How will the revision history of RDA be documented?

RDA Content


Why is RDA being changed to align with the IFLA Library Reference Model?
What are the benefits of aligning with the IFLA Library Reference Model?
What are the major changes in instructions between the original Toolkit and the beta Toolkit?
How has the treatment of aggregates changed?
Can you provide more information about diachronic works? Is it true that the term “serials” is no longer used in RDA?
What happened to relationship designators?
Can you provide more information about how RDA will handle non-human personages?
Why is the LRM Res entity not included in RDA?
Is a "work group" an entity in RDA?
How will the subject relationships be included in RDA?
Why are there so many elements in the beta Toolkit?
Why are the element labels so granular, and so difficult to understand? These will not make sense to users.
Why are there so many options in the beta Toolkit?
What is a manifestation statement and why should I use it?

Moving forward with RDA


What is an application profile, and how is it relevant to the beta Toolkit?
When will the RSC begin accepting formal proposals for changes to RDA, and what process should be followed?
How will RDA work with BIBFRAME?
What is the way forward for implementing linked data with RDA?
Where are the systems that can take advantage of RDA and related standards?

Beta Toolkit



What is the beta Toolkit?

The beta Toolkit is a preliminary version of the new RDA Toolkit that is being developed as part of the 3R Project (RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign Project).

The initial release of the beta Toolkit was published on June 13, 2018. There have been five releases since then with improvements to the functionality and content.

The design, structure, and layout are nearly complete, and the English text of RDA was declared stable with the April 30, 2019 release.

Work now shifts to the RDA translators, policy statement writers, RDA Examples Editor, and writers of supplementary materials.

The standard found in the original RDA Toolkit remains the official version of RDA.


How do I find the beta Toolkit? Can anyone access it?

The beta Toolkit is available through a button on the original RDA Toolkit or directly at at https://beta.rdatoolkit.org/.

A log-in to the original RDA Toolkit is required.

The free 30-day trial subscription to RDA Toolkit includes the beta version as well as the original Toolkit.


Who are the intended users of the beta Toolkit?

The intended users of the beta Toolkit are those who wish to begin learning the new structure of the Toolkit and content of RDA: cataloguers, cataloguing and metadata agencies, and teachers and trainers.


Should I apply the beta Toolkit instructions now in my everyday cataloguing work?

No. The beta Toolkit will not become the official version of RDA until several additional steps are taken:

“The beta site will remain in beta status until the RDA Steering Committee [RSC], the RDA Board, and the RDA Co-Publishers [Copyright Holders] have unanimously agreed that the redesign of the site is complete, the RDA standard text is stable, and the full site content (translations and policy statements) is available. Shortly after that decision, public notice will be given and the beta site will become the official RDA site. The current site will remain available for one year following that notice to allow for a smooth transition.” [Text from the blog post “What to expect from the RDA Toolkit Beta Site,” June 6, 2018, https://www.rdatoolkit.org/3Rproject/Beta]


Why was the beta Toolkit made available without some of the tools that cataloguers need to use it, such as an application profile, or policy statements?

The RSC made the beta Toolkit publicly available as soon as possible to allow these supporting products to be developed by communities using a stable text.

Getting the beta Toolkit into a shareable state is a significant milestone; however, all involved realize that more work needs to be done.

The beta Toolkit was made available after most of the instructions and guidance in the original Toolkit were incorporated; this involved restructuring, relocating, and redrafting the text to be compatible with the new structure and the LRM.

This provides a foundation for adding instructions and guidance that allow Toolkit users to benefit from the new features of the LRM and RDA Toolkit.

The ongoing development of the beta Toolkit is informed by feedback from individual Toolkit users and RDA communities, and planned activities that are assigned to RSC working groups.

Please do take the time to share your feedback on the beta Toolkit with the RSC.


What is the role of the RDA Registry in the beta Toolkit?

The RDA Registry is the source of Toolkit data for element and controlled terminology labels, definitions, scope notes, translations, and mappings, so it is integral to the operational production of the Toolkit and other RDA related publications.

This supports more efficient and effective data management by updating the data in one place.


How do I provide feedback on the content and functionality of the beta Toolkit?

A feedback form is provided on the RDA Toolkit blog.

The form is also accessible via a menu item in the top right corner of every page in the beta Toolkit.

Feedback can also be submitted via the RSC Region infrastructure.


Why isn’t this called RDA 2.0?

RDA is an integrating resource: the content of RDA will continue to develop over time.

If a version number were added every time RDA was updated, it would be far beyond 2.0.

The beta Toolkit was designed so that most of the outcomes of applying the instructions are the same as the outcomes of applying the instructions from the original Toolkit.

Of course, this also depends on selecting the element and recording method that equate to the approach taken in the original Toolkit.

The exceptions are for changes required by implementing the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM).

3R Project



What is the 3R Project?

The RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project adds greater flexibility and utility to RDA Toolkit's display of instructions and RDA-related documents, and updates the look and feel of the site.

The restructure portion of the project involved a major rebuild of the instruction repository in order to bring it in line with current data management best practices, make RDA data more modular and dynamic, and allow the RSC to track and manage a greater range of metadata associated with the instructions.

The redesign portion of the project included adoption of a responsive design and a plan to bring the site in compliance with established accessibility standards.

There are also improvements to Toolkit navigation, display, and features to create a user experience that is more intrinsically of the web.

At the same time, RDA content (in both the Toolkit and in the RDA Registry) has been edited to bring it in compliance with the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM).


When will the 3R Project be completed?

ALA Publishing, the RDA Steering Committee, and the RDA Board continue to work on criteria to use to determine the formal conclusion of the 3R Project.

There are many “moving parts” that are not under the control of these groups, such as the amount of time it will take for translation into multiple languages and to prepare application profiles and policy statements.


Will there be training for the beta Toolkit and the new RDA content?

Yes. There is information on the RDA You Tube channel and ALA Digital Reference offered bi-monthly beta Toolkit demonstrations starting in mid-July 2019.

The RDA Steering Committee will continue to add relevant webinars and presentations on the new content to the Presentations page on its website.

National and regional RDA communities are expected to develop in-house training materials and make them freely available online, as happened when RDA Toolkit was first published.

In addition, ALA e-Learning offered two series of webinars. The Special Topics Workshop series and the New Concepts Workshop series were held on Wednesdays in July-August 2019 and may be held again in 2020.

Additional events and training resources are being planned.

Follow the RDA Toolkit blog for information about upcoming events and new resources.


Will the original RDA Toolkit continue to be available after the release of the beta Toolkit?

Yes, the frozen April 2017 release of the original Toolkit will be available for one year after the beta site becomes the official RDA site to allow time for training and a smooth transition.

RDA Redesign and Restructure



Will the instructions in the beta Toolkit be numbered and how will they be referenced?

Citation numbering was introduced into the beta site with the May 22, 2019 release in response to a user need to reference RDA passages in print materials and other non-digital communications.

The format for these numbers is XX.XX.XX.XX.

The numbers are random, permanent, and searchable.

Citation numbers are accessible from the popup toolbar.

More information can be found in Citation Numbering Arrives on the RDA Toolkit blog.

The instruction numbering system in the original Toolkit for deleted or inserted instructions as well as hierarchies and groupings was problematic, requiring a new solution with randomized numbers.

The beta Toolkit supports searching by the old instruction numbers; searching for 2.11 for Copyright date will find the new location of the copyright date instructions.

However, the new structure of the Toolkit means that this kind of mapping will not always work, with some current instructions dispersed to several locations.

There are no plans to publish a separate concordance.

All of the beta Toolkit element pages, recording methods, and individual instructions have URLs that can be copied from the Toolkit to provide links from external, machine-readable documentation.


Will there be an index to RDA?

There are no plans for a separate index.

The beta Toolkit will continue to have a full Glossary containing entries for every RDA entity, element, and vocabulary encoding scheme term.


Will a print version of the RDA guidance and instructions be available?

Given the changes to the structure and content, a print version of the full RDA text is impractical.

In place of the print version, the Copyright Holders of RDA are planning to offer a collection of print volumes that will cover the key aspects of RDA and support offline use of the standard.

The collection will include the glossary, RDA Essentials, and more.


Will there be an opportunity for customizing the beta Toolkit?

The beta Toolkit allows customization at two levels: the institutional subscription, and the individual user within that institution.

The institution and user profiles allow for the setting of preferences for the display of policy statements, examples, etc.

Further customization is in the future development plans for RDA Toolkit.


Will AACR2 be available in the beta Toolkit?

AACR2 is available as a historical document in the Resources tab of the beta Toolkit.

The original mappings between AACR2 and RDA content have not been maintained.


Will examples in MARC be added to the beta Toolkit?

No. The use of RDA data in specific applications, including MARC, is out of scope for RDA.

RDA data is intended to meet the needs of a wide range of applications and user communities.

However, there are freely available examples of RDA cataloging, including examples in MARC bibliographic and authority format, on the RDA Toolkit website.

These will continue to be available and updated after the 3R Project is complete.


Will RDA mappings change?

Yes. The display of the MARC 21 authority and bibliographic mappings are now in the Element Reference section of each pertinent element in the beta Toolkit, and refinements to this mapping continue.

The MARC 21 tags are searchable in the beta Toolkit.

A mapping to Dublin Core terms is also displayed in appropriate Element Reference sections.

Other mappings will be added in later releases.

A generic mapping tool is a planned future development that would allow for easier creation and maintenance by appropriate communities.


How will the revision history of RDA be documented?

Neither the current revision history documents nor the current revision history practice has been carried over to the beta Toolkit.

Starting with changes made after the English language stabilized text (April 2019), a "Release Notes" document will accompany every release to the Toolkit and will be provided for each update to an RDA translation.

Release Notes will include a list of the instructions that have been revised, added or deleted, and a brief summary of the reason for the action.

The notes will be accompanied by an archive of PDFs for the altered instructions.

User may download these archived PDFs and the new PDFs, and then may use an application for comparing different versions of PDF documents.

The Toolkit will provide a list of such applications that are available online or for download.

RDA Content



Why is RDA being changed to align with the IFLA Library Reference Model?

The IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM) was published by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in August 2017, then amended and corrected through December 2017.

It is a consolidation of the models for Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD), and Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (FRSAD).

Alignment with these models remains one of the key design elements of RDA, and is the basis for the protocol between the RDA Steering Committee and the IFLA Bibliographic Conceptual Models Review Group (formerly the FRBR Review Group).


What are the benefits of aligning with the IFLA Library Reference Model?

The LRM is an international standard for bibliographic metadata that is compatible with metadata standards used in other cultural heritage communities, such as the museum community (CIDOC CRM).

It is optimized for use in the Semantic Web and linked open data, and is an essential component of the strategic development of RDA for the international, cultural heritage, and linked data communities.


What are the major changes in instructions between the original Toolkit and the beta Toolkit?

There have been significant changes in instructions for:

  • Aggregates, resulting from the new approach in the LRM
  • Serials (diachronic works), resulting from the new approach in the LRM
  • Relationship designators that have become relationship elements, resulting from the new LRM entities for Nomen, Place, and Timespan
  • Non-human personages, including fictitious entities, animals, and legendary beings, resulting from the definition of the Person entity in the LRM

New concepts from the LRM have been introduced, including:

  • Nomens and appellations
  • Manifestation statement elements
  • Representative expressions

There has been formal labeling of the four recording methods for recording data:

  • Unstructured description
  • Structured description
  • Identifier
  • Internationalized Resource Identifier (IRI)


How has the treatment of aggregates changed?

The treatment of aggregates in the original RDA was not developed beyond the approach of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, following the recommendation of IFLA’s Working Group on Aggregates to wait for the consolidation of the Functional Requirements models.

The LRM treats aggregates as a set of multiple expressions of multiple works that are embodied in a single manifestation. The manifestation also embodies an aggregating expression that selects the expressions that are aggregated; the aggregating expression realizes an aggregating work that is the plan for selecting the expressions.

Aggregates are not treated as whole-part works and expressions.

The LRM identifies three categories of aggregate:

  • A collection aggregate embodies expressions of two or more independent works.
  • An augmentation aggregate embodies an expression of an independent work and one or more dependent works such as an introduction, preface, illustration, etc.
  • A parallel aggregate embodies expressions of a single work, usually in different languages or scripts.


Can you provide more information about diachronic works? Is it true that the term “serials” is no longer used in RDA?

RDA uses the term “serial work,” defined as “A successive work that is planned to be realized in multiple distinct aggregating expressions over an indeterminate timespan.”

The terminology of the definition reflects the application of the RDA/ONIX Framework for Resource Categorization to the LRM model of aggregates and serials.

A diachronic work is intended to be embodied over a period of time, in contrast to a static work which is embodied by a single, more-or-less instantaneous act of publication or production.

The content of a diachronic work therefore changes over time, by replacing existing content through integration or by successive addition to existing content.

The successive issues of a serial work are themselves static aggregates of expressions of multiple works such as articles, reviews, etc.


What happened to relationship designators?

Relationship designators have been fully integrated with the beta Toolkit.

Relationship elements with fine granularity have been moved from appendices and are presented in the same way as elements with broad granularity.

This is more effective for associating all RDA elements and their instructions with local bookmarks and workflows, policy statements, and application profiles, as well as improving the consistency of the Toolkit.

It is also more efficient for maintaining and publishing the RDA elements.


Can you provide more information about how RDA will handle non-human personages?

The LRM treats personages, personas, and other bibliographic identities as forms of the entity Nomen associated with a referent entity.

The LRM also restricts the definition of Person to real persons who are known or assumed to have existed.

This means that only persons can be agents responsible for the creation of a work, expression, or manifestation, or for the modification of an item.

A statement of responsibility found on a manifestation that names a non-human personage can be interpreted in two ways:

  1. The name is a pseudonym of one or more real persons, and may be recorded as an appellation of a person or collective agent.
  2. The name refers to a non-human entity that is not an RDA entity. RDA provides a set of broad relationship elements to associate an RDA entity with an unspecified, non-RDA entity.


Why is the LRM Res entity not included in RDA?

The LRM uses Res as a super-entity of the other LRM entities, and as a mechanism for extending the model to specific implementations.

RDA itself is an implementation of the LRM and does not require a broader entity for extension beyond the other LRM entities.

Instead, the top entity in RDA is the new "RDA Entity," a super-class of the other RDA entities and a sub-class of LRM Res.


Is a "work group" an entity in RDA?

A work group is not an RDA entity.

It is a method for collocating descriptions of two or more works by assigning the same access point or identifier to each work.

RDA assumes the values will be recorded and maintained in a separate local vocabulary encoding scheme in order to control consistency and usage.

This is the same method that is used by the ISSN Network to collocate versions of serial works, by assigning an ISSN-L identifier.

A work group appellation (access point or identifier) can be used to group works for any purpose.


How will the subject relationships be included in RDA?

The RSC has determined that specific instructions on subject cataloging are out of scope for RDA and are not needed, as there are many existing subject cataloging schemes.

The original Toolkit’s “placeholder” chapters on concept, object, and event have been removed in the beta Toolkit to be consistent with the evolution from FRBR Group 3 through FRSAD to the LRM.

RDA provides a set of broad elements for relating any RDA entity to a Work as the subject of the work.

This allows RDA to accommodate a complete set of bibliographic relationships between RDA entities.

RDA also provides a set of broad elements for relating any RDA entity to any non-RDA entity that is specified and recorded outside of RDA.


Why are there so many elements in the beta Toolkit?

There are several factors that drive the provision of an element in RDA:

  • The beta Toolkit removes the distinction between relationship designators and elements. All designators are now RDA elements.
  • RDA provides an inverse or reciprocal for every relationship element. The LRM introduces specific entities for Agent, Collective Agent, Nomen, Place, and Timespan. These have been added to RDA, and attribute elements have been upgraded to relationship elements where appropriate. The beta Toolkit adds a new inverse element for every upgraded element.
  • The beta Toolkit provides specific elements for the original RDA agent entities for Corporate Body, Family, and Person. The original Toolkit conflates these in broader relationships between “person, family, and corporate body” (PFC) and other RDA entities. This reduced the number of elements, but created complications for the new Toolkit: the need to refer to instructions for Agent from instructions for Corporate Body, Family, and Person; alignment of policy statements; utility of bookmarks, notes, and workflow features; accuracy in specifying application profiles; flexibility in the future development of Agent and Collective Agent; etc. The beta Toolkit has “broken out” the original PFC elements to create distinct elements for each entity.
  • RDA provides a complete set of broad relationships between every pair of RDA entities, including RDA Entity itself. There are 13 RDA entities in the beta Toolkit, and therefore 13x13 (=169) high-level relationship elements.


Why are the element labels so granular, and so difficult to understand? These will not make sense to users.

The element labels are not intended for display to users of RDA metadata.

An element label must identify an element uniquely if RDA metadata is to be well-formed and coherent for re-use.

RDA accommodates applications that identify which element is used in a metadata statement by recording an IRI, local element set identifier, or preferred label for the element.

Each of these must be unambiguous and have a one-to-one association with the element.

RDA tries to assign labels that are consistent and follow a pattern that will be understood by a user of RDA Toolkit following orientation and training.

This has to be balanced with legacy usage and terminology.

The RSC encourages application developers to assign local labels for metadata display that can be customized to meet the expectations of the intended audience.


Why are there so many options in the beta Toolkit?

An instruction that is marked as an option in the beta Toolkit may be followed at the discretion of the Toolkit user, based on policy statements, other application profile information, and cataloguer’s judgement.

This is partially implied in the original Toolkit where no element is mandatory but some are marked as “core” to reflect latent agreement on policy in the pre-LRM Anglo-American and associated international cataloguing traditions.

The beta Toolkit is more explicit in order to allow a more consistent, clear, and coherent approach to using RDA to suit the needs of local applications and communities operating in a global environment.

The impact of the LRM, the extension of RDA recording methods, and the strategy for developing RDA for international, cultural heritage, and linked data communities all mean more choice for tailoring RDA for a wider range of applications.


What is a manifestation statement and why should I use it?

LRM defines “manifestation statement” it as a statement appearing in exemplars of the manifestation and deemed to be significant for users to understand how the resource represents itself.

This has been implemented in RDA to allow transcription of data appearing on the manifestation without applying most of the “adjustments” done now such as changing capitalization and adding punctuation.

There are two primary benefits to using manifestation statements.

First, it supports the “identify” user task even more than the current “transcribed” elements in cases when it is important for the user to get as close an idea as is practical without an image of how the data appears on the manifestation.
Second, it supports machine transcription derived from digitized and born-digital manifestations.

When libraries decide it is not cost effective for catalogers to manipulate manifestation data, this method allows for data to be recorded at a high-level element.

Moving forward with RDA



What is an application profile, and how is it relevant to the beta Toolkit?

An application profile is documentation that indicates which RDA elements are required or desirable to meet the needs of a specific application.

A profile will also determine which elements are repeatable or non-repeatable, preferred recording methods, and preferred sources of values such as vocabulary encoding schemes.

The beta Toolkit supports a much wider range of applications, so some form of application profile is essential to ensure consistency and coherency in the maintenance of data for any specific application.

The beta Toolkit provides user-generated bookmarks, workflows, and internal documents to implement an application profile.

The 3R Project is developing methods for linking external documentation to instructions, and is investigating ways of allowing a specific application to “inherit” a broader application profile.


When will the RSC begin accepting formal proposals for changes to RDA, and what process should be followed?

The RSC has adjusted and documented the processes for formal change proposals to RDA.

These have been published to the RSC website as Operations documents.

These processes are in a test-and-adjust period and will be reviewed and updated at the October 2019 RSC meeting.

Proposals may be submitted for the October 2019 meeting through the appropriate regional group. There is a deadline of 23 August 2019.

The English text of RDA will continue to be refined during the stabilization period through proposals received, Fast Track actions, and editorial intervention.

Feedback from individuals and communities continues to be gratefully received through the feedback form.


How will RDA work with BIBFRAME?

Leaders in these communities began a conversation at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. about the relationship and interoperability between RDA and BIBFRAME.


What is the way forward for implementing linked data with RDA?

We will need a linked data framework that is fully compatible with RDA; then it needs to be implemented by a “critical mass” of metadata providers and creators.

The RDA Steering Committee is working toward supporting this future vision by registering terms, definitions, scope notes, and semantic relationships in the RDA Registry and by explicitly making the linked data (IRI) recording method available throughout the Toolkit.

It will be difficult to avoid reliance on strings for linking data, currently supported in RDA for bibliographic/authority and entity-relationship database scenarios, until the MARC 21 encoding format evolves or is replaced.

Specialized applications that use normalized entity-relational databases will be able to move to linked data much more quickly.


Where are the systems that can take advantage of RDA and related standards?

We are in something of a classic chicken vs. egg problem, where vendors are waiting to take the lead from libraries, and vice versa.

There is some important work taking place, especially in the Linked Data for Libraries (LD4L) project, but until there is a stable framework that enough libraries are willing to implement, we’ll continue in this waiting game.

Note that RIMMF (RDA in Many Metadata Formats) takes direct advantage of RDA and associated standards to provide a package that is useful for training and orientation in RDA.

RIMMF is being used to create operational metadata for some small-scale, localized collections.

The RDA Development Team is working with the developers of RIMMF to implement the new features of RDA and changes to the current elements.

Posted 1 January 2018; updated 15 August 2019